Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Origins of marginalization and welfare state response

The result contains three reports (Del. 1-3), which summarise the findings of WP 1. WP 1 aimed at giving a summary on the debate on social exclusion in old age and changes in elderly care approaches based on a literature review. The different research strands are combined to provide a new conceptual approach for the analysis.

Report 1: “Comprehensive description of the social process of marginalization of the aged according to the social scientific literature".

Within the report the readers find an overview on the scientific research and debate on social exclusion done within the area of international comparative welfare state research. The report discusses the definition problems of the concept and compares a weak and a strong definition of social exclusion. The transfer to the area of old age distinguishes between variables related to social exclusionary processes on an individual-, family- and societal level. Concepts and findings within the research area of social-gerontology provide a framework for an in depth analysis and insights into the life situation of care-dependent elderly. Finally, with the examples of vulnerable groups the findings are put in more concrete terms.

As vulnerable groups are selected men and women living alone, because the living situation is one decisive risk factor for the development of exclusionary processes. Migrant pensioners are at a double disadvantage: firstly as members of an ethnic minority and secondly they are often members of the lower socio-economic classes with low educational level and a low level of pension payment. The analysis of their life situation illuminates processes and risks for certain disadvantaged groups. The analysis of the situation of informal carers reveals that the risk of social exclusion concerns not only the care-dependent elderly themselves but also the informal carers due to the heavy care burden.

Report 2: “Social exclusion and care for the elderly. Theoretical Concepts and Changing Realities in European Welfare States”.

The scientific concept of social exclusion, the definition of a multidimensional ageing process, its transfer to the area of elderly care are used as a starting-point for the analysis of the development of elderly care approaches within Western European countries. As key characteristics of high-quality care are defined the availability, accessibility and affordability of care services, integrated and comprehensive care offers, the integration of informal and formal care and support structures for informal carers.

The findings reveal that in particular in continental Europe new types of funding of care services on a national level have been introduced, which universally cover at least basic care services.

However, the limitations of the funding, the emphasis on additional private means and the focus on basic nursing care only limit the improvement. In all countries efforts have been undertaken to establish a diverse range of care offers and to promote processes of integration. As obstacles can be identified in the availability and accessibility of the offers for vulnerable groups in society and the still fragmented services. Finally, support systems for informal carers have been established, which differ in range and scope between the countries. Despite this, informal care work is often strongly related to a high care burden.

Report 3: Social Exclusion and inclusive care.
The (short) report summarises and draws conclusions on the reports one and two and describes risks of social exclusion in old age by defining a multidimensional ageing process and cumulative social vulnerabilities during life time related to different types of inequality. Moreover, characteristics of inclusive care such as access to services, the quality of services and supporting system for informal carers are discussed.

The strength of the research work lies in its innovative combination of different strands of research within the three reports and the creation of a conceptual framework for a neglected issue. (International comparative welfare state research on social exclusion and elderly care as well as socio-gerontological research). Within the framework of the EU-project the result has been used for further publications and development of an empirical study (WP 5). The reports have already been disseminated to social politicians and practitioners at care provider associations/organisations in different countries. The literature review provides a sound basis for further conceptual and empirical scientific work as well as for the development of new regulations in social or care policy. It also gives practitioners an insight into the development in different European countries.

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